Zali Steggall’s campaign against Tony Abott for Warringah was powered by a $1.1 million worth of donations


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According to AEC rules, donations from individuals and organisations above the threshold of $13,800 must disclose their names and addresses, with anonymous donations allowed below that.

Ms Steggall received nine donations above the threshold, which included $50,000 from Symi Investments Pty Ltd, which is registered to directors Nicholas and Diane Catsaras, $22,000 from McGuire Family Holdings, run by Hugh McGuire, and $57,000 from Extend Your Edge Pty Ltd, which is registered to Kirsty Gold, whose husband, private equity investor Peter Gold, was named in some media reports as a Steggall backer.

Below the disclosure threshold, Steggall’s pro-climate action campaign was powered by $754,251 from 1369 donors.

The battle for Warringah was one of the most high-profile and controversial electorate campaigns of the May election, notable for the large advertising spend and dirty tricks of some players.

Apart from campaigners for Ms Steggall and the major parties, third party entities GetUp and its conservative counterpart Advance Australia were also active.

Mr Abbott was personally targeted in posters which featured his face with the words “c–t” and “Pell” written on it, and a GetUp advertisement depicted him failing to save a person drowning person at the beach.

Supporters commiserate with Tony Abbott at Manly Leagues Club on election night. Credit:Jessica Hromas

Ms Steggall was the subject of a sexualised ad from Advance Australia in which the group’s “satirical superhero” Captain GetUp gyrated against her image on a billboard.

The Winter Olympian weathered constant assertions she was being secretly funded by GetUp, which she has continued to deny, as has GetUp.

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The amount of money spent by the Liberal Party to help Mr Abbott retain the seat he held for 25 years will probably never be known – the major parties are not required to disclose funding to individual electorates channelled through their state and federal bodies.

Ms Steggall said the level of transparency should be the same for major party candidates as it is for independents.

“Everybody should be accountable to the level independents are,” she said.

“There isn’t anywhere near the level of scrutiny we have. It’s a labyrinth to trace down who, where and how donations are made.”



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